2012 Kentucky Derby: The Journey Begins

Posted by Matt Cullen on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 16:27 PM

In the mainstream sporting world, the buzz is surrounding the NFL Playoffs, Tebowing, NCAA basketball, and the upcoming NFL Super Bowl.

In the horse racing world, it’s Derby Season!

That’s right, the Kentucky Derby® is four months away, but Derby prep season is upon us!

The Derby Prep Season

Thoroughbreds qualify for the Kentucky Derby through graded stakes races. The Derby is limited to 20 starters and entry is based on graded stakes earnings.

There are 36 prep races for the 138th Kentucky Derby, including 18 graded stakes preps. To qualify for the Kentucky Derby, horses must be among the top 20 of lifetime graded stakes earners.

January 7, 2012, kicked off the Derby prep season with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park. This marked the first of a series of races restricted to 3-year-olds in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. The next major graded stakes prep is Lecomte at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, was 15th on the list of lifetime graded stakes earnings for the 2011 Kentucky Derby. He won his first and only graded stakes race at Turfway Park’s Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, March 26, 2011, which qualified him for the Kentucky Derby.

    • With lifetime graded stakes earnings being the means of entry, horses that won graded stakes race as two-year-olds have an advantage over horses that began their graded stakes career at the age of three.
    • Thoroughbreds do not need to win prep races to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but a win at a major graded stakes race will almost assure a horse a spot.

Let the Journey Begin...

Like all derbies, the Kentucky Derby restricts its entries to three-year-old Thoroughbreds.

As January 1st came and went, all Thoroughbred race horses, no matter what date they were actually born, officially turned a year older. That means all registered Thoroughbred horses, which were born in 2009, turned three-years-old on January 1, 2012, making them eligible for the 138th Kentucky Derby.

The road to the Kentucky Derby can be a grueling one for many Thoroughbreds and can mean heartbreak for many owners/trainers if their horse does not qualify.

To qualify for the “Run for the Roses” is a feeling unlike any other and makes the journey well worth the trip. To SEE the Run for the Roses is the experience of a lifetime. FEEL the thrill of victory at the 138th Kentucky Derby with Official Ticket Packages direct from Churchill Downs® through Derby Experiences.

Who do you think will be the top contender in this year’s Kentucky Derby?

Share your thoughts below and be sure to follow QuintEvents on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby.

To experience the Kentucky Derby for yourself, visit www.DerbyExperiences.com for Derby ticket and experience packages. Make sure you are there this May when history is made at the 138th Kentucky Derby!

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Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 


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Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England and a die-hard Manchester United Fan. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011 where she attended Winthrop University and received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading her monthly Vogue & Cosmo and keeping up with fashion trends.


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Evan Chronis was born in Omaha, Nebraska but has made his home in south Charlotte for almost two decades. A Tar Heel born and bred, Evan received his B.A in Media and Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an avid Boston sports fan thanks to his family’s New England roots, and a fanboy of Wes Anderson films.